Keyword Density: “On-page SEO” is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.  When used correctly, it can help attract search engines and boost a page’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). When ignored, it can keep a page from ranking or even result in a search penalty, removing it from SERPs altogether. Keyword density is an element of keyword optimization that refers to the number of times a target keyword is used on a webpage.  If you’re an aspiring marketer, learning how to calculate keyword density is fairly easy. You simply take the number of times the target keyword appears on a page and divide it by the total number of words on the page:

Number of times the target keyword appears / Number of words on a webpage = Keyword density

Most SEO experts believe that an ideal keyword density is around 1-2%.  This means the target keyword appears about one to two times per 100 words. At this rate, the keyword appears enough times to show search engines what the page is about without engaging in keyword stuffing.

Now, let’s apply keyword density logic to your résumé using a “word cloud.” Cloud creators are used to highlight words and phrases based on frequency and relevance. They provide you with quick and simple visual insights that can lead to more in-depth analyses that are especially useful when submitting your résumé online.

Here’s an example I used for a “Sr. CRM Manager” job opportunity I came across.  I started by cutting & pasting into MonkeyLearn,  a free word cloud generator, the key elements of the job posting (“Purpose of Role,” “Key Accountabilities,” “Responsibilities,” “Requirements” and “Qualifications”) and left out information not pertinent to the job itself. Here’s the cloud that was generated”

Using a word cloud to dissect a job posting gives you an immediate visual representation as to the relative strength of keywords contained in it. You can even adjust the number of keywords you want to display on the MonkeyLearn cloud using a convenient slider.

The coolest part of the cloud generator is the accompanying panel which you can use to sort the keywords by the frequency with which they occur in the job posting. This gives you an ideal guide for comparing the strength of the keywords in your résumé to the ones in the job posting:

But, wait, it gets even better. You can download this panel into a spreadsheet right from the display:

Now, you have a top-down keyword guide to that specific job posting that you can use to ensure that your résumé and cover letter have the keywords the employer is looking for that will get you through the ATS gatekeeper.


  • Update the keywords on each résumé you send out to ensure that they match the prospective company’s language and save each custom résumé you make under a different file name.
  • Be specific. Include keywords that are identical in wording to the job posting.
  • Use as many keywords as possible. Having a Core Skills section in your résumé is a great place to organize them.
  • Do not use a skill keyword if you don’t have that skill and can’t defend it in an interview.
  • Include a mix of soft skills and hard skills.
  • PDF files are the best at preserving the design and format of your résumé but they’re not compatible with all ATS software. If you’re asked to upload your résumé to an applicant tracking system and “PDF” is listed among the file types you can use a PDF version. However, if the system does not specify which file types are compatible, stick to a Word document in .doc or .docx.
  • Not all ATS products are able to read and parse information stored in the header and footer sections of a Word document so place important contact details (your name, phone number, or email address) outside the header or footer of your résumé. This is critical because keywords like your city, state and zip code have implications for ATS.
  • Avoid images, charts, and other graphics. ATS reads from left to right and up to down and it sees these as “pictures” which it can’t decipher.
  • Use  bullet points for highlighting your accomplishments and qualifications on a résumé. Avoid using intricate characters when creating a bulleted list on your résumé and stick to the simplest options, such as a solid circle, open circle, or square, to ensure compatibility with an ATS.
  • Job titles are one of the most essential keywords an ATS will search for when screening through résumés. The prospective employer uses the job title to find candidates who have been there, done that. Be honest about the level of experience you have and the position you want. Make sure your résumé supports the job title you use.

If you ever want to rush and “hit” send without taking the extra steps to ensure that your résumé is a high match to the job you’re applying for, post-it these eye-opening statistics on your computer:

  • 98% of Fortune 500 companies rely on ATS software to streamline their recruitment process so there’s no avoiding the impact it will have on your submission.
  • 75% of job applications are rejected before they are ever seen by human eyes.

About Garrison Leykam, PhD:


  • Professional Career Coach (CPCC)
  • Business Coach (Expert Level)
  • Workplaceless® Remote Work Certification
  • Certified DISC Profile Analyst (CDPA)
  • Certified Professional in Design Thinking (CPDT)
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Business Certification
  • Accredited Project Manager Certification (APRM)
  • Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB)
  • PhD in Marketing
  • MBA in Business Strategy
  • Master’s in Psychology and Behavioral Statistics


  • Top 25 MA & PhD profiles in the U.S.
  • Top 1% LinkedIn Industry Social Selling Index (SSI)
  • All-Star: highest rating for LinkedIn profile
  • 4% of LinkedIn members statistically deemed a Super Connector
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator Expert

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